Welcome to Anotherhood Sadie, can you share a little about yourself?
I will be 42 next month and two years ago I was living a kind of quiet happy life. Then, in 2018, we went to Bali and whilst we were there, and this sounds a bit of a cliché, but I had this spiritual awakening experience.
I realised I have time; I’m financially stable; I have energy and resources but what am I doing with them? I had to go on this self-discovery journey I guess to find some purpose…. that sounds very Eat, Pray, Love doesn’t it!
Once I started questioning who I was, this path just naturally appeared to me, it wasn’t this big deal, it was just a gentle unfolding of, if I am not going to be a mother then who am I?
I found my way to coaching and trained as a life coach and then launched my business ‘This Curious Life Coaching’; Curious coaching for childfree women dreaming of a bolder life just at the end of 2019.
Anotherhood is about turning up the volume of the voices of women who do not have children; can you tell us why you wish to share your story with Anotherhood?
It’s about making connections, I don’t know many childfree women in real life, and all the people I grew up with and went to school with have all got children.
There isn’t badge that’s says ‘I haven’t got kids’ so you can easily identify who we are. It’s not a badge we wear as childfree women – it’s often the reverse and something we don’t talk about directly.
I always think there is a default or an assumption that if you are a woman you must be a mother. It’s not talked about in a way that makes it easy to find people who don’t fit in that usual box. So, I thought by sharing my story it’s shinning the light that we are out there.
There are, women who are childfree quietly getting on with their lives – It’s not just for people who are on the edge of society or it shouldn’t be viewed as being out on the edge of society. It’s normal and it’s not only for people who can’t have children, there are people who choose not to, or it can’t by circumstance, and they are happy with it, or have made their peace with it.
There are lots of different paths through it, I just felt sharing my story was a way of being another light, and saying this is quite normal – this is an option, it’s a choice.
I think that’s empowering for women to hear that it can be a choice.
If you strip away the expectations it becomes expansive, it’s not limiting, all these other options open up for you.
The more women that are sharing their story and putting their hand up and adding their voice to it, it makes it more normal.
Can you share with us what was happening in your life when you realised you would not be having children?
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that the decision happened, it was more of a gradual acceptance. I have been catching up with the Big Bang Theory recently and there is a episode where one of the couples announces to their friends they are having baby and Sheldon’s character goes “ohh noo!” like he is gutted and of course this is not expected by anyone there. Sheldon voices it out loud because he’s not really tied by social norms and I thought that’s how I have felt so many times when friends announced that they are having children.
It’s always my internal reaction, but from the outside I was always like, “that’s great news, congratulations, I am so happy for you”. I never really connected in the same way, or the way I assume other people do, of someday wanting to be a mother.
I always, felt the driver for me was an external one of expectation and assumption but it just wasn’t something I wanted for myself. I think I always had awareness that maybe that wasn’t my path but it took a long time to be able to voice it because it is seen as so against the grain.
My husband and I were together for about 9 years before we got married and it (being childfree) was just something that got slowly woven through our relationship and then at some point we were just like we don’t really want kids do we? When we had the discussion, I remember feeling relived that he felt the same way. I guess I can’t pinpoint it to a precise time as it’s never been something I have been driven to want to do – it’s always just been there.
It feels like to begin with you were disconnected from who you were as a person and the expectations you felt. It wasn’t until you could realise those expectations were nothing to do with you, you could focus on what was inside you.
Exactly that, it was like playing a part that was expected of me, but was not the true me. Every holiday we would come back and people would ask, “do you have ring, have you got engaged yet?” And that just seems to be a normal pressure to put on people.
Initially it’s the pressure of you’re supposed to get married, and then once we did get married the pressure to have kids came along. At that point I was very clear I didn’t want children so it was easier to say, “no we are not having children.”
It was like stepping through a veil, leaving behind all this expectation, and now actually I have come not to peace with or my choice but I have solidified my choice as part of who I am. Simple as that.
It feels like you have acknowledged the decision and in turn this has led you to accept more of yourself.
Yes exactly, and now I know that’s part of who I am – then came the question, “what do I do now? How to I step fully into this trues version of me”
I had to shut down that internal voice that feared judgement and was saying “what will so and so think if you post that?”. We travel a lot and it’s often raised comments like “oh god, your off on holiday again?!”, And now it was my time to let go of that judgement fear and own who my choices. It’s like saying, yeah – I can travel a lot because that’s actually my life, that’s the choice I have made for myself – I have freedom because I am childfree.
It’s just owning that and saying this is who I am and part of that is letting it go of it being uncomfortable for other people, that’s their concern not mine.
What has been your experience in sharing your journey of not having children with those who are important to you?
I think I am quite lucky because it has been quiet positive….although my family really don’t talk about things in that way, so it’s not that its been positive or it’s been positively received we just don’t talk about it. My brother has got 4 kids so I kind of feel my parents have their grandchildren to keep them busy and that lessens the pressure on me to have my own children too.
Friendship wise it’s kind of of been fine as well, although in saying that, last year I actively acknowledged that I had lost friendships through embracing my true self.
There were two girls I was friends with since school, and we were part of a friendship group of four and we went on holiday just before we turned 40. There was one breakfast and I noticed none one had spoken to me yet. They had seven children between the three of them and they were talking about schools, and clubs etc – all children related things. I deliberately didn’t contribute because I couldn’t – I had nothing to add to that conversation, but I was also realising it was like this every time we met, it was the same situation where I was left feeling on the outside.
I would either have to make my way in and play along with being interested or try and divert the conversation to something I was interested in. This time, I was thinking why do I put myself through this, I am not enjoying this experience anymore and it was a bit of a understanding that our friendship had shifted because their lives had gone on one path and I no longer had enough in common with them. No one had done anything wrong – it was just life and I no longer wanted to pretend anymore.
I think that it was less about me being childfree and more about that our lifestyles didn’t relate anymore, and I wasn’t willing to just go along with their side of it as it was excluding my view of the world. I couldn’t relate.
I think that has been the only “negative” to it, but’s it not really been negative; it’s just been the process that certain relationships had to go through as part of accepting myself and my choices and what that meant for how I continued to relate to the world around me.
Do you feel your decision has impacted the way you view your body?
I don’t think I have thought about it that way before. But last year I donated a kidney to my husband, he has kidney disease and his own kidneys were failing and it felt like a completely natural thing to do – to help improve his life and in turn improve life for both of us.
The process did give me a new appreciation for my body, that it was healthy enough to donate and then supported me through recovery quiet well. However, in some follow up checks they did find quite a large fibroid that I never knew I had, so then I had this interesting loop of thoughts – had we ever tried for children it could of impacted that journey, and how would I of felt about that?
For a little bit I felt maybe gave me an excuse, there is actually a physical reason why I can not have children rather that I just decided not to. But then I realised, that’s ridiculous – I don’t need an excuse simply to make my choice make more sense to other people.
I don’t think being childfree has really changed in a strong way how I see my body, but working through those thought loops when I found out about the fibroid made me think maybe there would have been a different journey with the same ending, but I will never know.
I think there is a societal perception difference in childfree and childless; you are seen in a different way if you can’t have children physically or if it’s a choice. There is a more stereotypical view that if you have chosen not to have children then you’re either a career driven woman only interested in climbing the corporate ladder, or you’re just a bit weird and want to have a house full of cats! It’s like those are the only two options.
I think through my own awareness journey I have got much more in tune with my own intuition and purpose. And where the layers of expectation have been stripped away I am able to hear my own voice again, and not just hear it but feel it as well. When I make decisions or think about things, I can feel that in my gut, in my heart or in my throat, and I now know that’s what I need to pay attention to. I think its is a real untapped power source. You have this energy in you, that gives you your own compass, and helps you with decisions and knowing what’s right for you.
What has been the most challenging part of your experience of not having children?
There is a societal perception that you haven’t gone through a rite of passage if you don’t have children. Once you have gone through motherhood then you are a woman and until you have done that your almost kind of still childlike, still infantile. That’s one of the things I that I found with the friendship group I had, it was like they didn’t really see me as a grown up, as I did frivolous things, like go off on last minute weekends away.
I don’t have the same types of responsibly as them, so the assumption is you’re not really grown up because you haven’t got kids and had to make grown up, parenting decisions….And when you’re in your late 30’s that starts to get a bit weird and uncomfortable for people – it’s like a defiance of the norms and brings a tension between their choices and mine.
I think that has been quiet a challenge, and life generally for a woman is viewed in the context of motherhood. For example, adverts have the motherhood aspect wrapped up in them and it’s a general assumption that if you are a woman then you will probably be a mum – so we treat all women as mothers or potential mothers.
As well as the challenges you have experienced, I wonder can you share any positive aspects?
The freedom – to do things, all then thing! You can decide to go away for a weekend, or decide you want to invest into training for yourself, or start a business. The fact I have the money (not spent on childcare) and time as well as the energy available means I can focus on building my coaching business.
For a while, through my 30’s if people talked about having children and when was it going to be my “turn” I would flippantly brush it off and say, “I’m not going to have children, I am far too selfish, I like my life the way it is.”
I now understand that was an automatic response to deflect the question away. It wasn’t coming from a place of selfishness at all – I recognise that now – but at the time it was the easiest thing to say. What is more true is to say I value the opportunity and the time to focus on myself so I can fulfil my purpose, because my purpose isn’t motherhood – its supporting other women on similar journeys so we can all feel more like our truest selves and not who others expect us to be.
If you could change one thing about how not having children is viewed, what would you wish to change?
It would be for it to be less of an ‘other’, or a weird choice. I think its seen against the norm and that makes women not able to talk about it in the same way that motherhood is.
I would love for it to be talked about more as a valuable option, so that young women and girls don’t see it as a full gone conclusion that you meet someone, you get married you have kids. That does not have to be the only path. You have a myriad of other options available to you, and they all have equal value.
I think that if not being a mother was more normal it would take the pressure of women who also unable to have children as it would feel less of a failure, because its not. It’s not at all – a mum is one thing that you be, but if for whatever reason you are not then there is a world of other things you can be that will be an equally incredible reflection of you.
So, I would love for it to be more of a norm, and for there to be stories, movies, TV shows with that story arc, where women don’t get married and don’t have children. Because at the moment that would sound to many as the opposite of a happy ending and we need to rewrite those fairy tales so we are our own heroes.
Anotherhood is about connecting women with shared experiences, I wonder can you share anything that you have found that has helped you to embrace your life, and your decision not to have children?
Finding purpose for me was the big thing. What am I, who am I, who am I supposed to be, connecting with that purpose for myself. It’s been so fulfilling and life changing to have purpose.
For me it was coaching, which led me to me to know that I could walk my own path and make my own decisions shedding off the weight of others expectations and now I help other women do exactly the same thing.
I think finding a deep sense of purpose for yourself means you have got somewhere to put all the energy that you have, and all that creativity that’s within in us as women.
You become a channel for it – your purpose – and it gives you in a place in the world, whether it’s helping other people or sharing your own art, maybe its writing for joy or volunteering with a local shelter. Whatever it is, there is a place for each of us, and its just finding a way to connect to that, I think it’s so important.
Are there any podcast/ books that you have found have helped you on your journey?
- The one I listen to the most is a podcast called the Priestess Podcast; It’s an exploration of spiritual and holistic practices that support self-awareness and self-development.
- The Imposters Club; which I recently started listening to is a great one if you ever feel like an imposter in your own life.
- Rewilding for Women: This one is full of real “running with the wolves”, wild women energy – it’s great if you are interested in that deep discovery of the feminine. There is a Facebook group for that one as well. It’s a really powerful exploration of deep femininity and deep feminine energy.
- The Honest Uproar
- The Quiet Ones – my Myers Brigg personality type is INFJ and this podcast is all about that – If you are an introvert who feels deeply then this is a great listen.
- Reclaiming Womanhood; I have dipped in and out of it as this on as it’s quite heavily academic, but there are lots of interviews with childfree and childless women and it’s a nice one to flick through and feel connections sometime, when your not feeling so connected as it reminds me that I’m not alone.
- The Comparison Cure by Lucy Sheridan; Lucy is The Comparison Coach, and this book is a cumulation of all her knowledge to help you be “less them and more you”
Can you share a synapse of what you do as a life coach?
I called my business “This Curious Life Coaching’, because curiosity is one of my values. I think if you’re not curious about things you stop growing, you stop moving forward, you become stagnate. I also think that being Childfree is seen as a curious choice and we do live a curious life against “the norm”.
Being curious about yourself, what your possibilities are, what your potential is, what really drives you – that’s where we start to grow and move towards goals and dreams.
I focus on supporting childfree women because there are layers of expectation within society that we get wrapped up in – thoughts and roles that get projected onto us but do not come from within us – so we can lose a sense of self.
I want to help women strip away those layers; support them in finding their own real internal drivers; and then connecting them with a deep sense of purpose and passion.
My work is to help other women to reconnect with who they are and find their truest self.
I think if everyone felt that deep connection to self then the world would have such an incredible source of positive energy. Wouldn’t that be incredible?
Check out Sadie’s instagram account
Interview by Laura